Discounted Golden Girls

I looked around the very busy Half Price Books as we walked trough the doors. As the cool air hit me in the face, two things caught my eye, a bright red sale sign and a bright yellow DVD package.

“Let’s go,” I said purposefully. “It’s a 20% off sale, and there’s a season of The Golden Girls calling my name.”

Bedtime movies

Public service note: in the future, when looking for something to watch a “few minutes of” to let your mind unwind before bed, do not choose anything like Crimson Tide. You will end up watching all of said film and finally getting to bed after 1AM.

Also of note, wow. I’ve seen Crimson Tide probably four or five times in my life. I know how it turns out. And yet, there was a part of me that thought this time it might, just might, turn out differently. You know it’s a perfect combination of acting, story and direction when you are convinced the stakes are real and maybe you don’t really know how it will end.

New equipment doesn’t equal creativity

Jennet + Justin + Ben Maternity

“If I had a new ________ I could do amazing things.”

We live in a tool-centric world. We are so obsessed with having the latest doohickey for our jobs we don’t really give enough thought to what we can do with that doohickey, beyond possess it. We think that new piece of tech will motivate us to do great things. I’m as guilty as anyone. I have some really nice gear. And I’ve found if my head isn’t in the right place and if I’m not really motivated to greatness, I output very mediocre work with that nice gear.

New equipment cannot make up for a lack of creativity, drive and hard work.

If you are expecting inspiration and motivation solely from a lifeless piece of technology, you’ll be disappointed. It’s a lesson I’m trying to learn. Focus on what you love. The rest will figure itself out.

The picture above is one I recently made while doing something I love. It means a lot that it turned out like I envisioned. And it had little to do with the latest gear and everything to do with hard work and creativity.

New software

I’m incredibly picky about software I buy. It has to be well designed, easy to use and simple. I’m usually not looking for programs that will do everything under the sun. Those tend to become too bloated and hard to figure out. I want ones that do exactly what I want, when I want with no hiccups. I don’t often add new software to what I use daily but with the purchase of the new iMac I decided to try some new things.

Photography Post Production

I added Photo Mechanic on recommendation from my friend Zack. The user friendliness isn’t as high on the list as I’d like, but it does what I need it to. And that is to cut my photo editing time down. It allows me to preview all the photos I take from a shoot almost instantly. I can then very quickly sort them and grab only the usable ones. Then I import that smaller subset into Aperture for actual editing. Not only does this cut down time spent sorting, it also limits the number of photos I’m dragging into Aperture. That means a smaller library which in turn means much needed speed for Aperture, which is a resource hog.

Writing

I also started using Storyist for some of my writing. I decided to get more serious about writing some of the story ideas I’ve been jotting down for years. Storyist also has some usability quirks I’m not a fan of, but after a few nights of writing, I’ve learned my way around relatively well. It handles all the heavy lifting when it comes to formatting the manuscript so I can focus on research and writing. It also has great ways of tracking things like characters and locations which is easy to refer back to. This is essential. I’m two chapters in and I’ve already spent hours researching things (like the French word for hospital for instance) and it’s nice to have a centralized location to keep all this.

I wanted to be able to sync my Storyist files between my various computers so I can work on it anywhere. For that I’m using Dropbox. I just saved the Storyist file to Dropbox and now it syncs across all my machines. And here’s hoping for a Storyist app for the iPad sooner rather than later.

The perfect bed

Kacey has decided the sink in the kids’ bathroom is the perfect bed for her. I have to say, I think she has a point.

And yes, I was tempted to turn on the water.

The germs know I’m busy

In the last two days my severe allergies have gone from severe allergies to just plain being sick. So I’ve got that going for me. And on what will be my busiest week so far this year.

Why do the germs always know when I absolutely cannot for any reason be sick? Now the temptation is to spend all day Monday just trying to get better. And by trying to get better I mean laying around watching movies.

Is being complex a great strategy?

I guess if you are targeting computer geeks who get all hot and bothered over system utilities then “complex” might be a good marketing strategy. However, I think most people buying Macs are doing it because they don’t even know what a system utility is. I know I don’t. So is calling your software complex really a good strategy for targeting the Apple market?

Never buying another computer?

I don’t think I’ll be buying any more desktops going forward. I don’t think I’ll even be buying any more laptops going forward.

They’ve all been largely obsoleted (at least at my home) by a sleek $499 device that doesn’t really have any right to be called a “computer” in the traditional sense.

Sure, there’s a handful of tasks that I still would prefer a real computer, but — amazingly — that list has now shrunk dramatically. In less than a week.

The quote above is from a really interesting article by Chuck Hollis.

If you go back and read the article I think you’ll see that Steve Jobs and his team have succeeded with what they were planning. In the original keynote where the iPad was announced, he said the alternative is netbooks, but the problem is netbooks aren’t really better at doing anything than a normal computer. So they invented the iPad to feel a need. They wanted to create a device that made the basics, email, gaming and web surfing a lot of fun. Throughout Hollis’ article he talks about his wife sending emails and smiling. In his house it sounds like there is no limit to the ways they can send email. And yet she chooses the iPad because…it’s more fun. And so Hollis’ family has shunned the massive combined computing power in their house, in favor of a tiny device that makes computers fun again.

I can see a future where we don’t buy a traditional computer ever again, and I think Apple can too. It may be a ways off, but I think the iPad is Apple’s vision of what the future of computing looks like. And you notice they are at the center of it with the App Store. Look at it like this, what if Microsoft not only had Windows but also received 30% of the sales from every piece of software ever run on Windows? I think at this point Bill Gates would be on the $100 bill. And yet, that’s the position Apple now finds themselves in. They are at the very center of what could be the future. They have taken something so complicated as computers and boiled it down to the basics to make it enjoyable.

I run my business on my computers, so I’m always hesitant to install software I don’t absolutely need. You never know when it will break something I actually need for work. And so my computers run just the stuff I really need. But on the iPhone, I have never been afraid to install software. I actually like Apple’s closed system. I like that they approve every app that hits the store. I like that installing an app is as easy as hitting download. No software agreements to pretend to read. No selecting where to install. I like that uninstalling is just two clicks away. In fact, they’ve made it so easy to operate, anyone can handle it. And from the looks of their stock, everyone is.

We’re on the list to get an iPad when our local Apple store gets their next shipment. We are selling Becca’s iMac, replacing it with the iPad and she can just use my laptop for any heavy-duty needs. I can’t wait to see what the future of computers is really like.

You can read my original thoughts from the iPad announcement here.

As an afterthought, if they put Steve Jobs on the $100 bill, does he get to have it redesigned to be beautiful again? It needs it.

24 divided by 2

I’ve been a fan of 24 since the very first season. Season seven, the final season, is currently just a few episodes from being done. After watching all seven seasons, I can tell you it really should have been called 12.

The sheer number of completely improbable events used on the show to stretch it to a full 24-episode season is mind boggling. The thing is, they are all the same improbable events, season after season. I give you my list of things guaranteed to happen in a season of 24.

A traitor will be inside CTU. Honestly, who is in charge of hiring and background checks for CTU? For a counter terrorism unit, they aren’t very good at finding out about people’s pasts.

A CTU employee will have an unstable family member who will choose exactly this day to wreak havoc for the employee. Never fails. If you have a crazy family member or a skeleton in your closet, it will all blow up on the same day Jack Bauer is trying to save the world.

There will also be a traitor in the President’s inner circle who will work against him/her for the entire season. And the bad part is it will be immediately apparent who the traitor is. They are always the slimiest of slimy.

All secondary characters on 24 will at some point during the season have a gun pointed at them and in about half the cases, be tortured. Knowing Jack Bauer is just not the safest line of work.

A vital witness will die at a very inopportune moment. Just as a witness is about to confess to Jack, a shot will ring out and the witness will take a hit. With their dying breath they will confess one small strand of information that will send Jack the next leg of his 24-hour marathon. Not only will this happen in every season, it will happen multiple times per season.

The CTU crew will work against each other and behind each other’s backs all day. CTU is in serious need of some team building exercises. I guess they never tried that thing where you fall backwards and trust others to catch you.

Jack Bauer will be captured and tortured, occasionally to the point of death. But, it’s also guaranteed he will manage to escape and kill every bad guy in the room. It’s just how it works.

The season-long body count will exceed the population of a small town. And that’s just counting the ones Jack takes out himself.

Jack will go “off the reservation.” At some point in every season, Jack will be forced to completely ignore the orders he’s been given and fight to save the world on his own. The improbability of one man having to single handedly save the country is pretty high. But seven times?

I applaud the writers of 24 for producing seven seasons that have some of the most amazing moments on television. I just wish they’d cut out half of it and made it the most action-packed and awesome show ever created.

The bacon cannon

Imagine a war torn environment. Weary soldiers on both sides of the line eye each other knowing the coming battle will be brutal. A group of soldiers pushes a large device to the front of the line. It looks like a standard artillery emplacement with a grille on the back end. One soldier pushes the button labeled “sizzler.”

The rest of the troops prep their rifles for combat. “Fire in the hole!” a soldier screams, pushing the big red button button. A shell composed of hot, perfectly-cooked bacon rockets from the tube toward the opposing forces. The smell of bacon hits the enemy just before the slices begin to land. The enemy line immediately begins to dissolve as they scramble to eat the savory weapon launched their way. Seconds later, our soldiers open up with their rifles on the bacon buffet line. Battle over in less than a minute.

And that folks, is weaponized bacon. U.S. Army, you are welcome.